Nothing signals the beginning of the festive season more than the heart-warming smell of hot mulled wine flowing through the air. Its mix of spices and delightfully sweet wine immediately evokes images of snowy hilltops, Christmas trees, carolling and festive cheer.
However, to make a great cup is an art-form that few have perfected, and too often is this iconic seasonal drink the victim of overzealous holiday spirit. Christmas parties abound with cups of laughably cheap wine, heated and infused with a seemingly random set of ingredients, served out of sauce pans without any thought for presentation.
Like all good things, a truly great cup of Glühwein (the Germanic name for the drink roughly translates as ‘glow wine’) requires time, patience, well sourced ingredients and a sense of holiday flare. This winter, take a page out of DDW’s festive playbook and impress your guests with the world’s most perfect mulled wine recipe:
Before being commercialised to death, mulled wine was a drink intended to showcase a family’s wealth and was incredibly popular within Royal circles. The reason is simple, it requires expensive ingredients that few had access to and the offhand decadence of heating good wine to near boiling point.
To prep your winning cup of mulled wine, gather the following items up:
2 bottles of full red wine. We recommend a strong Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which is perfect for its plummyness and dark fruit flavours which will complement the other ingredients beautifully. If you’re feeling particularly bullish this Christmas you could also use a Barolo or a Barbaresco for the mix instead.
160g caster sugar
10 cloves (plus extras to garnish drinks with)
4 bruised cardamom pods
Cinnamon sticks & stars of anise (extras for garnish)
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
150ml ginger wine
2-3 unwaxed oranges
1 lemon, peel only
Once gathered, ready your kitchen area for rest of the prep; for ideal workflow create an area for cutting, one for mulling and one for pouring, dressing and garnishes. Your perfect mulled wine will be ready in three easy steps:
1. At your cutting station, peel an orange and a lemon – juicing orange and adding it to a large saucepan along with a lemon peel, sugar and the allotted spices. Next, add enough wine to just cover the sugar; stirring gently until you can clearly see that the sugar has dissolved, bringing the mix to the boil. After five to eight minutes of cooking, you should have a thick syrup.
2. Meanwhile, at your dressing and garnish area, stud the other orange with vertical lines of cloves. Once studded, cut the orange into segments and then cut into segments, garnishing the rim of the glasses you will be serving. You may also want to a stick of cinnamon to each finished drink, if you so – put them next to each glass with a garnished orange.
3. Lower the heat and pour the rest of the wine into the saucepan, along with the ginger wine – stirring the batch continuously as you serve into your already garnished cups (we love these patterned glasses for an extra-Xmassy vibe). Add cinnamon to each if desired.
And voilá just like that you will have the ideal batch of mulled wine to impress any and all guests, co-workers or family this holiday season. Enjoy!